Trust the Flow

When I lived on the Brazos, technically I was not living on a river but on a narrow lake formed by a low water dam just east of Waco. The dam created a picturesque, constant-level body of water through downtown and Cameron Park, then several miles north of the city. Though the water was typically tranquil, there was a slight, variable current caused by the daily release of water from the Lake Whitney dam 40 miles upstream. Lake Brazos might look serene, but it was always flowing and never quite the same. Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, correctly described it well when he said that all things flow.

The consistently calm water was a perfect setting for all kinds of recreation; and occasionally my dock served as a drop point for floating, canoeing or kayaking. My favorite floaters were some Baylor undergraduate fraternity brothers, one of whom I had known all his life. They planned to end up at my dock, so they dropped off one of their vehicles at noon one hot Saturday and headed off for adventure. Five hours later I realized they had not returned. I was not overly concerned, but my daughter and I still got in our boat to look for them. We searched up the river, but they were nowhere to be found, so we headed downstream toward Waco. Several miles later, we located them paddling upstream with their two week supply of beer consumed, still in sight of their departure point. At their rate of speed, they would have reached their destination in about four days. We were a welcome sight and towed them back to our dock.

Note to self: A floating adventure works better when you go with the Heraclitean flow, and not against it, even when the water appears placid.

Floating the steady but imperceptible current of the Brazos is analogous to how we should live in the light of our faith in a Trinitarian God. God in three persons, aka the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, aka the Trinity, can be hard to grasp for a monotheist; but experiencing the water, it's flow and it's source helps me understand it. While my friends were definitely in the right river and were expending great effort (at least after all their beer was gone) to arrive at the right place, they were a battling the flow because they were unaware of it's source.

Richard Rohr ties my rambling thoughts into a nice three part bow when he writes this: Faith is trusting the Big River of God's providential love, which is to trust the visible embodiment (the son), the flow (the holy spirit), and the source (the father). This is a divine process that we don't have to change, coerce, or improve. We just need to allow and enjoy it. That takes immense confidence, especially when we're hurting. Faith does not need to push the river precisely because it is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing, we are already in it. So do not be afraid.

© 2016 by Charles D. Jones